Chimpanzee trekking is one of the most captivating primate adventures awaiting you in Africa. It is one-of-the-kind experiences offering tourists worldwide a lifetime opportunity to meet, interact and have a deep understanding about the daily behaviors of chimpanzees while in their natural habitat. Chimpanzees are unique species among primates, having over 98.7% of their DNA similar to that of humans which makes them our closest relatives.
There are many places to see chimpanzees in Africa, but the best places to visit for chimpanzee trekking safaris include Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and D.R. Congo. About 5050 chimpanzees inhabit various parts of Uganda alone and others are distributed across other African countries.
Uganda is one of the best places in East Africa offering unforgettable chimpanzee trekking experiences. There are many locations to visit to track chimpanzees while in Uganda. They include Kibale National Park located in the Western side of Uganda and hosts up to 1500 chimpanzees with many communities undergone through full habituation. Kibale National Park was established as a park in 1993, sitting on the land area of 795sq.kms and hosts a total of 13 primate species including chimpanzees.
Kibale National Park is best referred to as the primate capital of the world for a good reason. Other than chimpanzees, the park boasts of other countless primates of visitor interest on chimpanzee trekking including the blue monkeys, red colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, patas monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, pottos, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys.
Trekking chimpanzees in Kibale forest all requires all visitors to have valid chimpanzee permits. Each of Kibale chimpanzee trekking permits can be booked in advance at USD200 per person.
Chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda is a remarkable primate adventure that attracts most tourists to this magical African country. Two places offer the best of Rwanda chimpanzee trekking experience; Nyungwe Forest National Park and Gishwati-Mukura National Park. In Nyungwe Forest National Park, located in the Southern province of Rwanda, the key areas of interest for chimpanzee trekking include Cyamudongo and Uwinka.
In all the two sectors (Uwinka and Cyamudongo), chimpanzee treks begin at 8:00am and lasts for 2-4 hours. All treks to see chimpanzees in Nyungwe or Gishwati-Mukura national parks are done with an experienced park guide. Over 500 chimpanzees live in Nyungwe Forest and they are part of the 13 primate species that range in this park. The other special species of primates to come across in Nyungwe National Park include the owl-faced monkeys, silver monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, bush babies, baboons, pottos and at times golden monkeys are spotted.
Nyungwe Forest National Park offers more than chimpanzee trekking. It is a distinct place to enjoy one-of-its-kind canopy walk in East Africa. This can be combined with chimpanzee trekking or incorporate birding – to identify some of the 300 species of birds that reside in Nyungwe Forest. These include the regal sunbird, handsome francolin, Albertine owlet, grauer’s warblers, blue headed sunbird, Rwenzori turacos, Rwenzori nightjars, Neumann’s warblers, red collared babblers, Rwenzori batis, purple breasted sunbirds and more.
To most tourists on African safaris, Tanzania is better known for the African big five game safaris, wildebeest migration but in real sense, it is also an incredible spot to find chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Head to the remotest and forested Mahale Mountain National Park or Gombe National Park and you will have the best of chimpanzee encounter.
Tanzania may not be as popular as Rwanda or Uganda when it comes to primate adventures such as chimpanzee trekking, but it is an exceptional place of its own to locate chimpanzees. Mahale Mountains National Park protects several chimpanzees and attracts researchers who come for study purposes. A small number of chimps resides in Gombe National Park.
Besides chimpanzees, Mahale Mountains (2460m) also shelters diverse primate species like the red-tailed monkeys, red colobus and blue monkeys. At Gombe National Park, you can also find olive baboons, red colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, etc.
Chimpanzee trekking in D.R. Congo is an addition to the thrilling mountain gorilla and eastern lowland gorilla trekking experiences. The Congo chimpanzee trekking safaris are carried out in the Virunga National Park located in the Eastern side of the country just close to border with Uganda.
Treks to see chimpanzees in the D.R. Congo’s Virunga National Park are best conducted in the Virunga volcanoes area. This area is also known to protect a significant number of primates including gorillas, golden monkeys and Albertine endemic birds. Unlike Rwanda and Uganda, in the D.R. Congo, most chimpanzees are still undergoing through habituation.
What to carry for chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and D.R. Congo?
Essentials to have for your ultimate chimpanzee trekking experience in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania or D.R.C include waterproof walking or hiking boots, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, pair of socks, camera, sweater, bottled water, first aid kit, gardening gloves, rain jacket, daypack and more.
Best time to go chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and D.R. Congo.
Depending on the destination, but the ideal time to go chimpanzee trekking is usually during the dry season. The dry season normally starts from June to September, December to February – two phases that offer the best conditions to see chimpanzees in the wild.